Saudi authorities treat over 43,000 pilgrims before Hajj

Saudi authorities treat over 43,000 pilgrims before Hajj
An army of 25,000 health practitioners are on hand to serve worshipers during the annual religious event. (SPA)
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Updated 06 July 2022

Saudi authorities treat over 43,000 pilgrims before Hajj

Saudi authorities treat over 43,000 pilgrims before Hajj
  • From open-heart surgeries to dialysis sessions, Saudi Arabia’s health ministry offers pilgrims hope for a healthier Hajj experience

RIYADH: Health authorities in Saudi Arabia have treated 43,425 pilgrims ahead of this year’s Hajj season, which begins on Wednesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported Monday.

The ministry figures, between May 31 and July 3, show pilgrims received five open-heart surgeries, 66 cardiac catheterization, 182 dialysis sessions, two endoscopic procedures, and 95 surgeries.

Over 290 pilgrims were admitted to hospitals and one woman gave birth.

Four cases of stroke were also identified through the use of the health ministry’s virtual hospital and more than 740 pilgrims had consultations with healthcare workers through the Sehhaty health app.

In Makkah, Madinah and the ritual locations for Hajj, Saudi authorities have readied 23 hospitals and 147 clinics with a combined capacity of 4,654 beds, including 1,080 ICU beds.

As the Hajj is taking place in one of the hottest months of the year in Saudi Arabia, there will also be 230 beds set aside for pilgrims suffering from heat exhaustion.

An army of 25,000 health practitioners are on hand to serve worshipers during the annual religious event.
 


Memorandum signed to combat desertification in Al-Baha region

Memorandum signed to combat desertification in Al-Baha region
Updated 08 August 2022

Memorandum signed to combat desertification in Al-Baha region

Memorandum signed to combat desertification in Al-Baha region
  • The areas of cooperation and understanding stipulated in the MoU include various topics regarding Al-Baha region such as vegetation development projects
  • The MoU also focuses on creating an attractive investment environment that contributes to achieving the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030 and the SGI

RIYADH: The National Center for the Development of Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification signed a memorandum of understanding with the Strategic Office for the Development of Al-Baha region on Sunday.

It was signed under the auspices of center’s CEO Dr. Khalid Al-Abdulqader and the office’s CEO Abdulaziz Al-Naeem, aiming to enhance mutual understanding between the two organizations in the field of vegetation development and investment.

The MoU also focuses on creating an attractive investment environment that contributes to achieving the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030 and the Saudi Green Initiative, which launched a comprehensive effort to reverse environmental degradation and climate change through regenerative development, conservation, and sustainable practices. 

The areas of cooperation and understanding stipulated in the MoU include various topics regarding Al-Baha region such as vegetation development projects, as well as coordination and communication about the SGI.

Other topics include exchanging knowledge and experience, and organizing tourist programs and events in the region.

The MoU is part of a series of contracts and agreements concluded by the NCVC, and falls within the framework of its efforts to combat desertification, reduce sand encroachment, and preserve natural resources to achieve an improvement in the quality of life and create sustainable economic development.

These efforts also aim to enhance cooperation and integration with government, private and non-profit institutions, and to unify and organize national efforts in implementing vegetation rehabilitation initiatives.

The NCVC is focused on developing, protecting and controlling vegetation cover sites, rehabilitating degraded ones, detecting encroachments on them, combating logging, supervising pasture management, grazing governance, and protecting and investing in forests and national parks.

It also supports, through its various projects, efforts to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions globally.

Under the slogan “sustainable parks,” the NCVC launched an awareness campaign on July 28 in cooperation with Aseer Development Authority and over 12 government bodies to enhance societal awareness on the necessity of protecting the vegetation cover in Saudi Arabia.


Saudi holidaymakers hit by rising foreign travel costs opt for staycations

Saudi holidaymakers hit by rising foreign travel costs opt for staycations
Updated 08 August 2022

Saudi holidaymakers hit by rising foreign travel costs opt for staycations

Saudi holidaymakers hit by rising foreign travel costs opt for staycations
  • Hotels, resorts throughout Kingdom offer summer deals to tempt cash-strapped travelers
  • The mountains of Taif are a popular staycation destination with incredible landscapes, panoramic views, outdoor adventures, fruit markets, rose farms, cafes, and restaurants proving a major draw

JEDDAH: Thousands of cash-strapped Saudi holidaymakers hit by rising foreign travel costs are opting for summer staycations.

Instead of heading abroad, droves of trippers are taking advantage of the Kingdom’s tourism industry boom to explore destinations closer to home.

Air fares and the costs of traveling abroad have soared after the coronavirus pandemic, prompting many hotels and resorts throughout the country to offer special deals on a range of getaways.

Vacations in Saudi Arabia or day trips to local attractions are proving increasingly popular.

Hamoud Abdulazez, who lives in Riyadh, said: “This summer, I have planned a short break and will take my family on a road trip to explore places in the neighborhood.

“We must face the reality of the situation, that travel budgets are double the amount nowadays. The best option for a holiday is to stay in this country.

“Also, many hotels and resorts have summer-season offers. Despite the extreme heat, the hospitality sector in the country accommodates to weather conditions and provides alternative entertainment activities,” he added.

Ali Rahman, an Indian resident living in Jeddah, said a rise in flight prices to India had forced him to reconsider his summer vacation plans and he was now looking at holidaying in the Asir region.

“Though traveling to India is not really far, the cost of a staycation in the Kingdom is less expensive than traveling outside the country,” he added.

Post-pandemic, many people now work from home or remotely. This has led accommodation providers to offer comfortable working spaces with high-speed Wi-Fi facilities.

The Kingdom boasts a variety of resorts and hotels in locations including Riyadh, Jeddah, Alkhobar, Taif, and Abha.

For adventure and entertainment activities Nofa Riyadh, a Radisson Collection Resort, offers a taste of Africa with its own safari park, along with horse- and camel-riding, water sports, bowling, cinema, buggy rides, cycling, mini golf, children’s entertainment, and an adventure zone.

Nofa Riyadh’s general manager, Fabrice Collot, said: “The resort team members are committed to creating memorable experiences for all our valued guests.

“From arrival, where guests are greeted by the bright smile of one of our front-office attendants, to anywhere over the resort, visitors receive warm and true hospitality. And our concierge will help people to discover every amazing amenity that the resort has to offer.

“A safari is just the beginning. There is an African village with incredible facilities and restaurants offering a vast array of food that guests can have served at their villa while relaxing by their private pool.”

For the beach, nature, and exclusivity, King Abdullah Economic City, on the Red Sea coast 100 kilometres north of Jeddah, is a family favorite.

Activities include go-karting at Juman Park, swan paddling on the Marina Canal, 4-D movies, a science and technology museum, water sports such as scuba diving, snorkelling, and kayaking at the private beaches, horse-riding, and a Lagoona Adventure tour.

With views of the Red Sea, natural lagoon, and mangrove, Bay La Sun Hotel and Marina, and Views Hotel and Residences, in KAEC, offer a range of amenities.

Mustafa Ainen, general manager of Bay La Sun Hotel and Marina and Views Hotel, said: “We are delighted to invite locals and expats to come for staycations and try this side of the country.

“We have created an environment where our guests can have the best personal time of relaxation along with unpretentious fine food and genuine services, big swimming pools surrounded by lush greenery and a snack bar, and a tennis court.

“Staycations save greatly on travel fees. With the current international situation, air fares and transportation costs in general have shot through the roof. As a result, residents in Jeddah, Makkah, and other regions nearby are happy visiting us as we are only a few hours away.”

The mountains of Taif are also a popular staycation destination with incredible landscapes, panoramic views, outdoor adventures, fruit markets, rose farms, cafes, and restaurants proving a major draw.

Abdulrahman Al-Sufiyani, deputy director of Gazelle Resort, said: “Many people visit Taif during the summers to escape the heat in the big cities and enjoy the cool weather of the hill stations.

“Our resort is located on a mountain with a view of the pool and a rustic coffee shop. The villas and suites are decorated in soothing natural hues with a private balcony that looks out over the majestic mountain allowing guests to have a mesmerizing experience and views of the moving clouds.”

Other exclusive summer staycation offers are available at numerous locations around the Kingdom such as at Dana Beach Resort in Half Moon Bay, Alkhobar, and the InterContinental Hotel in Abha.


PNU’s Apple Developer Academy celebrates first graduation

PNU’s Apple Developer Academy celebrates first graduation
Updated 08 August 2022

PNU’s Apple Developer Academy celebrates first graduation

PNU’s Apple Developer Academy celebrates first graduation
  • ‘The women graduating today from the Apple Developer Academy are creators, designers, coders and entrepreneurs’

RIYADH: The first group of students have graduated from Riyadh’s Apple Developer Academy, established last year in collaboration with Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Tuwaiq Academy and the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones.

The all-women program brought together graduates on Sunday night to celebrate the study of the expanding iOS app economy.

Esther Hare, senior director of worldwide developer marketing at Apple, said: “The women graduating today from the Apple Developer Academy are creators, designers, coders and entrepreneurs. They have bright futures ahead, and we can’t wait to see how they will use their skills and experience to leave their mark on the region and the world.”

She added: “Already, many of our graduates here have lined up wonderful jobs as they launch their careers as iOS developers, UX designers, project managers and more. As we expand the program, we expect to eventually reach over 600 women each year with these world-class learning opportunities.”

The Academy helps women entrepreneurs and developers to begin careers in the app economy.

More than 100 students gained coding, design, marketing and professional skills over the course of nine months, and they now graduate with the full set of abilities required to take part in the iOS app economy, and even launch their own businesses.

“Our mission this year was to fully support our learners’ education ambitions, wherever they are and at whatever level, regardless of age, technical knowledge or background,” said Ohood Al-Nayel, director of the Riyadh Apple Developer Academy.

“We were very mindful from the beginning in equipping each and every Apple Developer Academy learner today with relevant real-world knowledge and skills, to ensure the region’s app development environment of tomorrow is an exceptional one,” added Al-Nayel.

The Academy began offering in-person classroom instruction in February. The facility is housed at PNU, which has the largest women’s university campus in the world, offering students access to top-class amenities including dorms, athletics facilities and quick links to Riyadh.

“Following my time at the Academy, I am proud to witness my own change and evolution,” said Academy student Samah Bamumin.

In order to connect with businesses for career and funding opportunities, students took part in a job fair before the graduation ceremony.

“It was an absolute honor to witness how the Apple Developer Academy delivered skilled developers, designers and entrepreneurs to the Saudi market,” said Ahmed Dulli, executive manager of mobile development at Elm Company, one of the Kingdom’s largest development houses that offers custom-made solutions for the government and private sector.

“There is a dire need for iOS developers in the Kingdom, especially with iOS being the most used mobile platform in the country. Therefore, we truly appreciate Apple’s efforts for supporting that.”

To help aspiring business owners, developers and designers find and create jobs in the booming iOS app economy, Apple has established more than a dozen Apple Developer Academy locations around the world.

Academy graduates go on to launch their own companies, develop and market apps on the App Store, and volunteer in their communities.

Applications are now open to all women across the region. Students do not need to have a connection to PNU, nor do they need a university degree or any coding experience.

Commenting on why the Apple Developer Academy is offered at no cost, Hare said: “We believe apps for everyone should be designed by everyone and we want to ensure that passionate learners have the opportunity to be part of this program, regardless of financial ability. Across the world, we offer this program at no cost so that we can increase equity, access and opportunity.”

Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that within weeks, Apple will launch a special logistics zone at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh to manufacture and export devices to markets in the region.


Saudi Arabia automatically extends visitor IDs for Yemeni residents

Saudi Arabia automatically extends visitor IDs for Yemeni residents
Updated 08 August 2022

Saudi Arabia automatically extends visitor IDs for Yemeni residents

Saudi Arabia automatically extends visitor IDs for Yemeni residents

RIYADH: Yemenis living in Saudi Arabia will have their visitor IDs automatically extended for six months, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

In an SPA statement, the General Directorate of Passports said eligible residents can apply for the six-month extension until Dec. 7.

The extension applies to Yemeni residents who regularly renew their visitor IDs, the authority said.

Beneficiaries would be required to pay the fees in a service available until Aug. 23.

“The extension will be done automatically without the need to visit the passport departments,” the authority said.

The new ID will be delivered to the resident via the Saudi Post, the statement read.


Saudi artist with disability draws praise for combating stereotypes

Ahmed Hakeem’s paintings were displayed at Markaz Al-Oun Bazaar. (Supplied)
Ahmed Hakeem’s paintings were displayed at Markaz Al-Oun Bazaar. (Supplied)
Updated 08 August 2022

Saudi artist with disability draws praise for combating stereotypes

Ahmed Hakeem’s paintings were displayed at Markaz Al-Oun Bazaar. (Supplied)
  • Ahmed Hakeem’s love of creativity helps him to forget the difficulties he faces to draw some amazing art pieces
  • Hakeem has not let his disability be an impediment to what he likes doing, which is painting

RIYADH: With joy, Ahmed Hakeem holds his brush, starts picking vibrant colors, and then he paints cubic and abstract shapes on an empty canvas.

Hakeem is a 34-year-old Saudi artist who has a mild intellectual disability. Individuals with mild ID are slower in all areas of conceptual development and social and daily living skills.

But Hakeem’s love of art helps him to forget the difficulties he faces as a person with a disability to draw some amazing art pieces. He has not let his disability be an impediment to what he likes doing, which is painting.

Not only is he a dab hand at painting, but he also enjoys a variety of sporting activities, including basketball, swimming and running, as well as hiking, ping pong and padel.

FASTFACTS

• Hakeem is a 34-year-old Saudi artist who has a mild intellectual disability. Individuals with mild ID are slower in all areas of conceptual development and social and daily living skills.

• He has not let his disability be an impediment to what he likes doing, which is painting.

• He is also an athlete. He is a good swimmer, he plays basketball, he loves running, he has won bronze and silver medals in sports.

His paintings were displayed at Markaz Al-Oun Bazaar, which is a help center and non-profit organization that helps people with intellectual disabilities, and he wants to have his own gallery in the future.

Hakeem, who works at Juffali Heavy Equipment as an assistant, also talked about how hard it is for people with disabilities to find a good job.

“You need to know about the challenges that I am having with the community in general. Most people with disabilities are usually unemployed and don’t have access to powerful governmental aid, but their families have to enroll them in special clubs, and this can be financially stressful to the parents, so there is a lack of community and activities for us,” Hakeem told Arab News.

Noura Hakeem, his sister, said: “Because Hakeem looks normal and is not in a wheelchair, many places we go, they see him as a normal person, and every time we go out, I have to have proof that he is mentally challenged, which is very hard.”

“Even though the plane’s tickets are more expensive than the economy ticket and the discount they give us isn’t that much, so basically we book him a normal economy ticket but hopefully with time this is going to change soon because there is more attention by the authorities on people with disabilities,” she said.

According to APD, the official association of people with disabilities, the percentage of people with disabilities in the Kingdom is 7.1 percent, or 1,445,723 people out of a population 32.94 million. The association is set to organize its efforts and build an integrated institutional system to remove barriers to people with disabilities and empower them to live in society without discrimination.